Friday, September 20, 2013

When you want more from retirement, shift from being a spectator to being an actor

I've been thinking a lot about how to "rev" up one's retirement and I believe one of the keys is to shift from being a spectator to being an actor; to take solitary pastimes and make them ones that enlarge your world.

It looks like this. Lets suppose you like to read. That is a solitary activity. But take your love of reading and start volunteering to read to children at lunchtime, become involved in an adult literacy program, join a book club, lobby for more funding for your local library, volunteer at a book festival, join a writer's group, take or teach a class on poetry, or get a part time job at a library or book store and you have turned your passion into action that engages you more fully with the larger world.

It is when you become an actor in your area of passion that you become more engaged in the world as a retiree. You will develop more interests, meet people who share you interests and hopefully make new friends, and maybe even learn something.

I think this is especially important for those of us who were so busy with work and family commitments that our few recreational activities before retirement were mostly passive.

For example, my husband still is working and likes to watch sports on TV. He used to play various sports and coached Little League for a few years. Now he mostly is a spectator. We were talking about what he is going to do when he leaves his current work and the idea of becoming an "actor" in an area where he now is a spectator appealed to him. He is going to spend today as a spectator at a golf tournament but he did try to find someone who would go with him which would have helped make it less of a solitary, passive activity so that is a start. We talked about other possibilities for the future: volunteering with the First Tee program, playing in a foursome regularly, or revisiting some other sports he used to play for ways to be an actor. He is lucky that he has a long list of sports to revisit - tennis, surfing, softball and skiing to name a few.

One of the things I discovered when applying this approach to expanding my own life is that some things I used to really enjoy are no longer passions. So your efforts may involve lots of false starts but I hope you won't give up! You may even discover new areas of interest that will provide you with great satisfaction, create wonderful friendships and help you live a large life.

I would like to hear how you have taken what can be a solitary or spectator activity and turned it into something that expanded your life.


  1. An excellent perspective!

  2. Great post! I love going to art museums (spectator). But now I am taking a water colors class (actor).

  3. Juhli, excellent post. It is helping me immensely as I work on getting my retirement "act" together.


  4. Great post. Ihave had to learn to do this especially (and still do it) because many of my hobbies could be solitary if I let them. this semester I am taking an online class instead of an in person class-never ever again!

  5. This is a great post - and so true. It is easy to stay behind the scenes but we really need to get out and expand our horizons. I am trying to do that now that I have retired.